Bonds Conviction Hardly A Victory

They ought to make T-shirts that read: "My government spent three years, five months and $10 million, and all they got was a silly little obstruction of justice conviction."

What a joke.

While they stumble their way through debates in Washington over the economic perils of the country, the United States is wasting an estimated $10 million for its prosecutors to bungle a case against Barry Bonds and then try to claim a victory for failing to get a conviction on any of the four perjury charges.

The headlines read that Bonds was convicted, but that conviction is more worthy of an asterisk than the home run record Bonds set.

It almost seems as if the jury invested so much time listening to double talk that the 12 members felt like they had to agree on something just to prove they were listening.

So after one count of perjury was thrown out, the jury failed to reach a verdict on three other perjury charges, and settled on finding Bonds guilty of giving evasive and misleading answers.

Heck, he made a living out of that when he was playing baseball. Ask any member of the media who ever approached the sullen superstar. So this is suddenly news? Talk about a federal crime.

With the conviction, Bonds likely will receive a sentence of community service and a fine. One would be hard-pressed to think he'll have to spend any time behind bars for the charge on which he was convicted.

But this whole thing does have the feel of a witch hunt about it, so anything is possible.

Nothing New

Understand, there is no defense for Bonds. Is there any breathing human being (other than Bonds, of course) who denies that he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs in an effort to set baseball's all-time home run record at 762?

What also is fact is that Bonds feels no remorse for his actions. Never has. Why start now?

This is a guy who at the age of 12 was such a nuisance that his father's California Angels teammates asked then-Angels manager Dave Garcia to ban kids from the clubhouse.

And when he was at Arizona State and was suspended from the team by coach Jim Brock, Mike Devereaux was his only teammate who voted in favor of reinstating Bonds for the playoffs.

Bonds' personality, however, has nothing to do with the headline-grabbing efforts of the prosecutors who wasted so much money putting together such a weak case against Bonds that the government had to settle for being thrown a bone by a jury looking for a way to justify its existence.

Prosecutors not only couldn't get Bonds' personal trainer, Gary Anderson, to testify against them, but they also had their own witnesses providing conflicting testimony.

Steve Hoskins said on the witness stand that he had more than 50 conversations with Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' orthopedic surgeon, about Bonds using performance-enhancing drugs. Then Ting denied he ever discussed Bonds and drugs with Hoskins.

That undermined Hoskins' credibility and left a cloud of doubt over his sister Kathy, who was Bonds' personal shopper and testified that she saw Anderson give Bonds a shot in his belly once.

Fact is, each of the prosecution's witnesses could be written off as former associates of Bonds who had a vendetta against him.

The jurors who spoke after the verdict admitted they did not have a great deal of faith in Bonds' honesty, but they were just as dubious about the testimony of the government witnesses.

And so now, with this papier-mâché conviction, some pundits will declare that Bonds has suffered the ultimate indignity and his name is mud, and his career has been exposed.

Puh-leeze. Bonds did that to himself, long ago.

The only thing that came out of this fiasco was that the federal prosecutors couldn't prove what the public already knew. And if that isn't embarrassing enough, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag wouldn't even admit defeat and rule out the possibility of a retrial.

If anyone back in D.C. needs help in figuring out ways to whittle away at the budget deficit, here's a suggestion. Give Haag a call and tell her to zip it. More than three years of time and millions of dollars already have been wasted.